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Security officials gather at the site of a blast outside a public park in Lahore, Pakistan, March 27, 2016.
Reuters/Mohsin Raza
Security officials gather at the site of a blast outside a public park in Lahore.
DEADLY BOMBING

A suicide attack at a children’s park in Pakistan has killed at least 65 people

By Marc Bain

This post has been updated.

At least 65 people were killed and more than 200 people injured in a suicide bombing at a park in Lahore, Pakistan.

A powerful blast shook the city Sunday evening (March 27), centered just outside an exit gate at Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park, according to the Pakistani newspaper Dawn. Several families, including children, were present at the time of the explosion.

“It was a soft target. Innocent women and children and visitors from other cities have been targeted,” Haider Ashraf, a Lahore police official, told the New York Times. “Apparently, it seems like a suicide attack.”

A Taliban splinter group, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, said it was behind the bombing. “We claim responsibility for the attack on Christians as they were celebrating Easter,” a spokesperson for the group told The Express Tribune.

It contradicts earlier claims that the attacks were not meant to target Christians. The park was crowded because of the Easter holiday, but it’s also known as a place where families of all sorts go with their children.

Quartz will update this post with details as they become available.

News of the attack spread quickly after a geo-tagging mistake by Facebook, which accidentally prompted users around the world to confirm they were safe following the attack.

Pakistan has suffered significantly from extremist groups. A Taliban insurgency operates against the government with impunity along the country’s border with Pakistan. The country’s apparent instability, combined with a nuclear arsenal, has made it a constant source of anxiety for anti-terror officials.

Lahore is the capital city of the province of Punjab in northwest Pakistan; one of the country’s richest cities, it is also the home of Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister.

Punjab’s governor was murdered by one of his own bodyguards in 2011 after contemplating a plan to loosen blasphemy laws seen as targeting the country’s non-Muslim minorities. The bodyguard, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, was executed last month but his death became a rallying cry for Islamists, including during on-going street demonstrations this weekend.

In Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, Qadri’s supporters have become increasingly violent and the army have been dispatched to restore order.  A source in the city says there is chaos near parliament and protesters are setting fire to buildings. “Anyone watching TV immediately connected the incidents,” she told Quartz.

Saquib Tanveer, a senior researcher for Geo TV who is on the scene, told Quartz that one thousand protestors have been arrested, while dozens of police officers and protestors have been injured.

The government has already declared three days of mourning after the Lahore attack.

Update, March 27, 3:20pm: The post was revised to show the updated number of deaths and to include the news that a group has claimed responsibility.